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The Problem:

We live in a world replete with the artifacts of computer science. Some of these artifacts, like the web, the iPhone, and social media, have had such cultural impact they practically define what it means to be alive in the 21st century. And yet, the popular image of the production of these artifacts is strikingly 20th century: some geeky guy with poor social skills and questionable hygiene, hunched over a computer night after night, writing in an arcane language, a code, that only machines can understand. We might find humor in this disparity except for its serious consequences. Misconceptions about what computer science is and who can do it – misconceptions held by students, parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and even within the CS community – conspire to shape, and ultimately limit, students’ career aspirations. The result is an “incredible shrinking pipeline” [1,2] that produces too few computer science graduates in general and disproportionately few who are women and minorities.


  • By 2016 U.S. universities will only produce 53% of the computer science bachelor’s degree graduates needed to fill available jobs [3].
  • In 2008 only 11.8% of CS bachelor degrees awarded went to women, 4% to African Americans, and 6.1% to Hispanics [4].
  • In a survey of high school calculus and pre-calculus students, only 2% had a reasonably good grasp of what CS entails and 80% admitted they had no idea at all [5].

Our work takes aim at these problems by addressing misconceptions students have about the practice of computer science. Our approach is to engage K12 students (typically 5-7th grades) in a semester-long software development project carried out by college-level computer science students. The goal of the software project is one of those 21st century computer science artifacts that students can relate to: a computer game.


[1] Camp, T. 2002. The incredible shrinking pipeline. SIGCSE Bull. 34, 2 (Jun. 2002), 129-134.
[2] Morris, H. H. and P. Lee. 2004. The Incredibly Shrinking Pipeline is not Just for Women Anymore. Computing Research News 16(3):20.
[3] NCWIT, Women in IT: The facts. http://www.ncwit.org/thefacts.
[4] CRA Taulbee study, http://www.cra.org/resources/taulbee.
[5] Carter, L., Why students with an apparent aptitude for computer science don't choose to major in computer science, Proceedings of the 37th SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer science education, March 03-05, 2006, Houston, Texas, USA .

Benefits of participation

While our ultimate goal is to inform students about computer science practice, our project offers concrete benefits that serve the educational goals of middle school teacher.
  • The games we produce are educational ones, specifically targetted at learning objectives specified by the middle school teacher and designed to fit within classroom constraints (hardware, time requirements, etc.).
  • We provide a forum to engage middle school students in designing tools for their own learning.
  • We support literacy efforts by providing an authentic context for communication between middle school students and college students/faculty.
  • The process provide a glimpse into the college experience as well as role models (the college students), which may enhance middle schools perception of and desire for higher study.

K12 Partners

  • Greg Orr and Heidi Ellis, Hillside Middle School, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Leslie Wallace, Sycamore Elementary School, Claremont, CA
  • Michelle Townsley, Rio del Valle Middle School, Oxnard, CA
  • Robin Herbig, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, Lihui, Kauia, Hawaii
  • Gloria Boroski and Trish Hatch, Armstrong Elementary School, Pomona, CA

What Our Teachers Have To Say

For decades, integrating technology into content-area curriculum has been a challenge for all educators. This form of interaction between college game designers and secondary education students allows technology to be closely tied to learning objectives in ways that are close to impossible for individual educators to implement.

- Josh Yavor, Social Science teacher, Hillside Middle School

The often abstract concepts of social studies instruction are made concrete and accessible through the gaming environment. Students experience 'supply and demand,' 'human- environment interaction,' and an array of other critical concepts through direct, interactive experience. Not only is this experience both engaging and educational in itself, it provides excellent scaffolding upon which to build other forms of instruction.

- Greg Orr, Social Science teacher, Hillside Middle School

iPad Games

Help Hammy tumble and bounce his way to tasty victory in this cute, puzzle-based physics game.
(Created by Michelle Chesley, Priya Donti, Claire Murphy, and Carson Ramsden, Spring 2013. Further Development by Carson Ramsden, Kanak Singh, and Jean Sung, Summer 2013.)
Click here to download Hammy Coaster

Hammy Coaster

Learn about the food chain and discover different ecosystems!

(Created by Michael Culhane, Haley Erickson, and Joey Klonowski, Fall 2013. Further development by Paige Garratt and Haley Erickson, Summer 2013.)
Click here to download Needit Feedit

Needit Feedit

How close can you get? Circle Circle Revolution (CCR) is a fast-paced game that teaches you how to visualize and estimate fractions. Get close and score big!
(Created by Sean Campbell, Greg Kronmiller, Justin Lim, and Maruhan Park, Spring 2013. Further development by Kathryn Aplin and Azubuike Ndefo-Dahl, Summer 2013.)
Click here to download Circle Circle Revolution

Circle Circle Revolution

Fractions are fun! Action fractions are even more fun! Learn fractions and help save the aliens.
(Created by Alistair Dobke, Corinne Druhan, Jake Low, and Seo Park, Fall 2012. Further development by Kathryn Aplin, Haley Erickson, Paige Garratt, Azubuike Ndefo-Dahl, Carson Ramsden, and Jean Sung, Summer 2013.)
Click here to download Action Fractions

Action Fractions

Pandalgebra is a game to teach algebra. Solve the problems and help the bouncing panda to the candy!
(Created by Izzy Funke, Abby Gregory, Miranda Parker, and Ari Schlesinger, Spring 2013. Further Development by Kathryn Aplin, Haley Erickson, Paige Garratt, Azubuike Ndefo-Dahl, Carson Ramsden, and Jean Sung, Summer 2013.)
Click here to download Pandalgebra

More Games to Come!

PC Games

Learn the importance of the natural environment in the development of agricultural settlements in different locations by controlling different environmental factors.
(Created by B. Fish, C. Loncaric, A.Novak, and A. Yodipinyanee, Spring 2010.)
Click here to download Hectare
(unzip and double click on hectare.exe)


Learn the significance of migrations of peoples and the resulting benefits and challenges.

(Created by B. Fish, C. Loncaric, A.Novak, and A. Yodipinyanee, Spring 2010.)
Click here to download Migration Sensation
(unzip and double click on MigrationSensation.exe)

Migration Sensation

Learn how forces of conflict and cooperation among people influence the division of the Earth’s surface and its resources.
(Created by Elliot Godzich, Andy Kearney, Leon Liu, Colin O'Byrne, and Emma Taborsky, Spring 2011. Further development by Natasha Parikh and Emma Taborsky, Summer 2011.)
Click here to download Zorgon Undertaking
(unzip and double click on ZorgonUndertaking.exe)

Zorgon Undertaking

Learn about competing ideas about the purpose of government in a democracy and a dictatorship by running for president.
(Created by Eric Aleshire, Alexa Keizur, Benson Khau, and Kimberly Sheely, Spring 2011. Further development by Sasha Paudel, Summer 2011.)
Click here to download Dinocracy
(unzip and double click on Dinocracy.exe)


Learn about the effects human activities, influenced by societal values, have on the physical environment by running a power company and balancing economic and environmental factors.
(Created by D. Huie, E. Mullen, S. Pernsteiner, and A. Zuckerberg, Spring 2010.)
Click here to download Energy Empire
(unzip and double click on EnergyEmpire.exe)

Energy Empire

Learn about the impact of the Agricultural Revolution on society in order to keep a village alive.

(Created by A. Kearney, E. Mullen, E. Myers-Stanhope, Summer 2010.)
Click here to download Village Defense
(unzip and double click on VillageDefense.exe)

Village Defense

Learn how historians use a variety of sources to explore the past in order to complete a rescue mission.
(Created by E. Carlson, J. DeBlasio, K. Ewing, E. Fujimoto, K. Gragg, S. Lakhani, A. Lawrence, and L. Vasserman, Fall 2009.)
Click here to download Time Mystery Mischief
(unzip and double click on setup.exe)

Time Mystery Mischief

This puzzle game is designed to teach students about ecosystems and food webs by making sure each animal has enough energy to survive.
(Created by Jeb Brooks, Cecily Hunt, Lena Reed, and Amanda da Silva, Fall 2012.)
Click here to download Ecolibrium
(unzip and double click on ecolibrium.exe)


These collection of Olympics-themed minigames teach students simple algebraic skills such as solving equations and understanding coordinate pairs on a graph.
(Created by Ben Corr, Lisa Gai, Aric Hunter, and Ravi Kumar, fall 2012.)
Click here to download Mathlymics
(unzip and double click on mathlymics.exe)


An arcade style game where the player achives high scores by collecting items and answering computer questions.

(Created by Rohitwashwa Bagaria, Jasper Duan, Bridgette Eichelberger, and Frank Liu, fall 2012.)
Click here to download Bit-C
(unzip and double click on bitc.exe)


This collection of sports themed minigames trains the player basic skills in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

(Created by Joe Agajanian, Meg O'Keefe, and Brennan Plassmeyer, fall 2012.)
Click here to download Mathletics
(unzip and double click on mathletics.exe)

More Games to Come!


  • Jessica Blevins, Andy Kearney, Eric Mullen, Emily Myers-Stanhope, Elizabeth Sweedyk, Muddy Hill Games. ITiCSE 2011.
  • Elizabeth Sweedyk, How Middle School Teachers Solved Our SE Project Problems. CSEET 2011.
  • Elizabeth Sweedyk, Women Build Games, Seriously. SIGCSE 2011.
  • Emma Carlson, Jessica Blevins, Elizabeth Sweedyk, Time Mystery Mischief. Grace Hopper 2010.
  • E. Sweedyk, G. Orr, and J. Yavor, Games for students, Games by students, A Collaborative Design Project. Ed-Media 2010

Privacy Policy:

We do not collect any information on our users.


For more information contact:   Z Sweedyk   or   Mike Erlinger


Funding for this project has been provided by NSF grants #1042472 and #0837452. Additional funding has been provided by the HMC CS Dept.